In our global online ecosystem, companies can’t do everything on their own. So you will need to establish more relationships with other companies that offer a variety of online services if you want to enhance your Web site with more content, new online functionality, and more revenue opportunities in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
Many relationships will be non-traditional in nature, be contrary to how you’ve traditionally done business, and require that you relinquish a bit (or even a lot) of control. However, with the rapid growth of competitors due to low barriers of entry, emergence of new business opportunities, evolution (and perhaps death) of existing business models, increased speed of innovation, shortened product development cycles, increased costs, and of course, an ever-fragmenting and fickle audience, companies can no longer create everything themselves in an isolated fashion or take years to develop something.
Therefore the next “C” of my “The12 Cs for Thriving in a Digital World” is “collaboration.” Collaborating with partners and other third-parties is a key to digital success. And that includes successfully evaluating, establishing, and managing relationships that will propel you forward.
When evaluating and selecting partners, be very clear on what you want to gain and hope to achieve strategically and tactically. You must carefully evaluate potential companies to collaborate with at many levels, including their ability to deliver on what they promise, ease of system integration, and corporate stability. Backup plans and exit strategies must be devised in advance in case things go wrong. Your business must continue without skipping a step if the relationship should end. For example, you might want to start out with using an external partner, but at some point plan to bring it in house. Border’s decision to end its relationship with Amazon is an example of this.
Increase Content on Your Site
A key area for collaboration and partnerships involves your online content strategy. (We’ll talk about other types next time.) Many companies want to retain existing audiences as well as attract new ones; increase the number of visits and loyalty and the stickiness of their sites; and establish potentially virile components. Increasing content on a site is a strategic way to accomplish these goals.
That’s why many companies are beefing up their content offering. Whether producing content is your core business or an addition to enhance your core business, you can most likely benefit from having more relevant and useful content on your Web site. You want to supplement your content with other external sources to expand your coverage depth, move into a new content category that your audience is interested in, enhance an e-commerce Web site with relevant information, or augment a trade show site so it serves as a both a pre- and post-event destination Web site. To accomplish this, there are many sources and channels to get more content.
There are many different ways to get more content — articles, photos, video, data, charts, and so on — onto your site, all without having to create more original content yourself. And there are many different business models to consider. For some, you pay to license the content and tools, others are revenue shares, and still others are ad-supported or free. Here are some methods and sources for getting content:
- License content directly from premier content providers such as magazines publishers or news organizations, like the Associated Press.
- License content from content aggregators, such as YellowBrix and Newstex, that have deals with a number of premier content providers.
- Use tools and platforms from technology companies such as Inform and Daylife that scrape the Web for relevant content.
- Join online content marketplaces such as Mochila that bring together content producers with publishers and offer a revenue-share model.
- Use RSS feeds offered directly from publishers.
- Pay a fee to use tools from blog and RSS aggregators such as Pluck and NewsGator.
- Leverage free content providers such as ARA Content.
- Partner with companies like Voxant that enable you to embed videos on your site and offer a revenue share.
- Provide your site visitors with the ability to submit user reviews and ratings.
- Link to content on other Web sites.
Strategically, there are many questions and issues to address when collaborating with external content sources. Here are a couple big ones:
- Should you have your competitors’ content on your Web site? There are pros and cons from a publisher’s perspective along with a lot of internal considerations. From your audience’s perspective, however, there aren’t any cons.
- Remember, you still must differentiate your site. If your competitors are increasing their content and using some of the same content acquisition sources that you are, will all your sites start to look the same? Use additional content wisely so it’s an actual differentiator and not just something you crossed off the to-do list. Intelligently integrate all your newly acquired content into a cohesive user experience where relevant information is categorized and organized together in meaningful ways for the audience.
I’ll continue the discussion on collaborating with partners and third-parties next time.
Join us for ClickZ Presents: Online Marketing Summit, September 25 at the Sheraton San Diego.
Video consumption keeps increasing and Facebook is serious about a video-first world, encouraging us all to explore its full potential. Ian Crocombe, ... read more
Mike Andrews Ph.D is Chief Scientist (Forensiq) at Impact Radius, and is carrying out some fascinating work around digital marketing and ad ... read more
A new organization, The Coalition for Better Ads, has been launched to “leverage consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement ... read more